Queen Elizabeth II in Canada Amid Turmoil
By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Writer
TORONTO - Queen Elizabeth II
flew in to western Canada for a royal visit Tuesday, with the nation's governing party embroiled in a political scandal that has threatened its hold on power. The queen and Prince Philip arrived in Regina, the provincial capital of western Saskatchewan, where they are taking part in centennial celebrations for the province's union with the Canadian confederation.
The Queen is the head of state in Canada, a member of the British Commonwealth of former colonies.
The queen, wearing a salmon-colored suit with black trim, was met at the airport by Canada's Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, the queen's representative in Canada, Prime Minister Paul Martin and other dignitaries.
The 79-year-old monarch has visited Canada at least 22 times since she becoming queen and has referred to it as a second home. Though Canadians are somewhat indifferent to the monarchy, most have great affection for the queen, toasted at official events and whose silhouette marks their coins.
The visit begins just two days before Martin faces a vote of non-confidence in Parliament. Should his minority Liberal government lose what's expected to be a very close vote, general elections will be called.
The Liberals got a huge boost on Tuesday, however, when a key Conservative member of Parliament defected to the Liberal Party.
Royal tradition has been to bow out during election campaigns to avoid any suggestion that the visit is being used to shore up support for an incumbent government.
At least one royal watcher does not believe national politics will hurt the long-awaited royal visit.
"Politicians are always on their best behavior when the Queen is around," said John Aimers, dominion chair of the Monarchist League of Canada.
The opposition, however, has accused Martin of using the Queen's visit to prop up his government. Martin said he intends to greet the royal couple when they arrive Tuesday evening and he will address the official welcoming ceremony on Wednesday morning before returning to Ottawa.
If Martin's government — hit hard by a corruption scandal within his Liberal Party — were to fall Thursday, officials say the queen would not get caught up in the procedure of dissolving Parliament.